Last May 30-31, the Sorsogon Division of City Schools held a conference on “Sorsogon’s Local History”
at Andy’s Point, Barangay Piot, Sorsogon City.
With the Theme, “Leaders for Heritage: Taking the Lead in Preserving and Promoting Their Cultural Heritage,” the Conference gathered around 120 Department of Education (DepEd) teachers in Araling Panlipunan on the Elementary and Secondary Level in the public schools in Sorsogn City and a few cultural workers.
The conference was organized by the Panlunsod na Samahan ng mga Guro sa Elementarya at Sekondarya sa Araling Panlipunan (PASAGESAP, Inc.) and co-implemented by the Division Schools of Sorsogon City led by Superintendent Nympha D. Guemo and Educational Programs Supervisor (EPS) for Araling Panlipunan, Dr. Divina M. Diaz.
A similar activity was held last May 18-19, 2017, and the Division hopes that this can be an continuous capacity building and training skills seminar, not only for the city schools but for the province’s schools as well.
The four speakers were: DR. DANILO B. GERONA, Professor-candidate at the Partido State University (PSU) in Goa, Camarines Siur and long-time/retired Professor of History at the Ateneo de Naga Universityand an author of multiple works in Bikol and Naga History, including local histories of various municipalities in Kabikolan. He has done extensive archival research in Spain, among such collections as the Franciscan Archives and the Archivo General de Indias, the results of which come out in his various publications.
MR. JULIO NEO MENDOZA, a Teacher in Dance and the Performing Arts, Drama Coordinator, Director,
Scriptwriter and Choreographer and Scriptwriter for Community-based Theatre Groups in Sorsogon province. Among his latest credits was the full-length play entitled, “KATUBOL,” depicting a folkloric hero of Sorsogon.
MONSIGNOR FRANCISCO P. MONJE, President of the Board of Trustees of the Sorsogon Museum and Heritage Center and the Kasanggayahan Foundation, which spearheads the annual celebration of Sorsogon’s founding as a separate province in October 1894. He was instrumental in the publication of the 50th anniversary coffee table book on the Diocese of Sorsogon (1951-2011). A former Vicar-General of the Diocese he now serves as Parish Priest of Irosin.
DR. STEPHEN HENRY S. TOTANES, retired Associate Professor of History at the Ateneo de Manila University and presently an Assistant Professor II at the School of Graduate Studies of the Sorsogon State College. He helped organize and head the Institute of Bikol History and Culture (IBHC) at the Ateneo de Naga University and was former President, now Vice-President of the Sorsogon Heritage Society. Having done research largely in the United States National Archives, he has published several articles on Sorsogon and Bikol history focusing on the American period or the 20th century.
The main issue raised by the teachers was the lack of textbooks and teaching materials on Sorsogon and Bicol History.
The lectures and discussions of the speakers primarily tried to fill in the gap between what exists about Sorsogon and Bicol history and what is generally available to teachers in the Dep Ed schools.
Dr. Gerona pointed out that he has many publications on these topics and he has his own publishing arm to make these readings available. Mr. Mendoza also conducts clinics on dance and performing arts in some DepEd schools depending upon their requests.
Msgr. Monje brought to their attention the existence of a coffee table book on the history of the Diocese of Sorsogon, from 1951-2011. It includes brief histories of how the parishes were organized. This year 2019 is particularly significant because it is the 450th anniversary of the coming of Christianity to Sorsogon and the “first Mass” celebrated in Luzon--in Gibalon, in the vicinity of the town of Magallanes.
Finally, Dr. Totanes shared his lecture of “Rediscovering History, Heritage and Identity in Sorsogon” using the framework of “Remembering Alice”—Alice Roosevelt, the President’s daughter who visited the province on August 26, 1905 and after whom a bridge was named for her by the local government. He shared that his organization, the Sorsogon Heritage Society, has been able to publish seven volumes of Sarabihon: A Journal of Sorsogon Studies and these can be made available to the teachers.
The conference was funded generously by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) through its National Committee on Historical Research (NCHR). Both organizers and funders look forward to more of these activities so that together, we can continually “preserve, protect and promote our heritage.”